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Caloocan News

Photo Courtesy of PISTON

Police defends arrest of 6 jeepney drivers 

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Caloocan City Police defended the arrest of six jeepney drivers who staged a protest to call for the resumption of their operations in Metro Manila.

“Yung area nila na pino-sisyunan…isang busy na area, especially EDSA. So nagkaroon sila ng pagtitipon, pinapara nila yung vehicles. Noong dumating kami doon, sinabi namin na mag-stop na lang sila sa ginagawa nila [The area where they held a protest was a busy one, especially that it was EDSA. So they held a gathering there and would flag down vehicles. When we arrived there, we told them to stop] but they insist[ed]. That makes them disobedient,” Col. Dario Menor, city police chief, said Thursday over ABS-CBN’S Teleradyo.

Menor also called on the public not to be aggressive in taking such actions, particularly holding protests that could violate the law, as the government “does not fall short” in extending assistance.
 
“Imbis na tahimik ang ating buhay, magiging kumplikado pa po (Instead of having a peaceful life, it has become complicated),” he said.

But transport group PISTON decried the arrest of the arrest of the six drivers, including a 72-year-old, and said that the drivers were lured after police allegedly asked them to go to their headquarters for negotiation but ended out being arrested, charged and detained.

According to a police report, the drivers were charged for violating the social distancing and mass gathering protocols, and committing “resistance and disobedience to a person in authority.”

The drivers were identified as Elmer Cordero, 72, Severino Ramos, 59; Wilson Ramilia, 43; Ramon Paloma, 48; Ruben Baylon, 59; and Arsenio Ymas Jr., 56.

Their charges stemmed from a protest they held along EDSA on Tuesday morning, June 2.

In an interview over ABS-CBN’S Teleradyo interview, Cordero said that it was the lack of money that prompted him to join the protest.

“Kung sa mga ayuda, sa bigas, meron. Problema, pera, pambili ng ulam. Napakahirap ng pera ngayon… Ultimo 10 piso pambili ng asin, betsin, wala. Sabihin ko man na malungkot, wala akong magagawa. [In terms of relief package, particularly rice, we have. But the problem is money to buy viand. It’s hard to earn money now. Even P10 to buy salt, we don’t have. Our situation now may be saddening but I cannot do anything.)”

As of 6 a.m. of Thursday, June 4, the drivers were still detained at the custodial facility of Caloocan City, said the group’s secretary general Steve Ranjo. He added that they were still waiting for the resolution of the court after they underwent online inquest proceedings on Wednesday.

Menor said that the drivers would only be released should they be able to post bail.

“Masakit man pero yan po ang naging kapalaran, kaya nga po kami nanawagan na wag sanang daanin sa ganyang pamamaraan ang kanyang panawagan [It might be hard to think but that’s their fate. That’s the reason why we’re calling on people not to do what they did to express their message],” he said.

PISTON said that the drivers “observed social distancing and were even wearing face masks” when they held the protest, as seen in a video circulating on social media. The Caloocan police chief has yet to respond to this as of posting time.

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